Memorial: Aremu Hails Bafyau’s Legacy, Advises Labour on Politics

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TRADE union leaders in the country have been advised to be conversant with the provisions of the relevant circular of the Head of Service with respect to participation of civil servants in partisan politics in enhancing their “full and unfettered” participation in the democratic process.

The Director General of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Comrade Issa Aremu, gave the advice in Abuja on Tuesday on the side-lines of the 10th year Memorial for the late President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Paschal Bafyau, organised by NLC.

Bafyau was the third elected President of NLC from 1988-1994 and died at 65 years in 2012.

Comrade Aremu, who described the former NLC President as an “institutional comrade”, observed that the late labour chieftain through “constructive engagement” with governments initiated “a pack of legacy projects” that included the 12-Storey Labour House in Abuja, first Labour Transport Service (now Labour City Transport and the defunct Labour Bank (LACON).

According to Aremu, under Bafyau, “weak unions restructured through voluntary mergers into vibrant organisations of workers.” He added that the best tribute to Bafyau is a renewed commitment to a united trade union movement by union leaders.

Describing Bafyau as “a complete part-time and full-time trade unionist”, Aremu however noted that his “greatest legacy was the dismantling of the age-long disconnect between economic struggles and political struggles of trade unions, in line with the tradition of Michael Imoudu, first number one labour leader.”

Aremu further stated: “Comrade Pascal Bafyau was among the first generation of politically conscious labour leaders daring all the risks associated with murky state/political/partisan terrains. He was a Member of the 1986 Political Bureau and the 1987 Constituent Assembly under the military regime.

“Pascal’s name possibly featured more in reports on state-labour relations than any comrade. He championed the formation and registration of the Labour Party. He offered to be the late Chief Moshood Abiola’s running mate in the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). He nearly clinched it.

“We can interrogate the quality of Pascal’s politics, but everybody acknowledges that he was politically audacious and not partisanship shy. With ease he traversed most contemporary political parties. His friendship was genuinely bipartisan and ideologically cross-cutting”.

While commending NLC and TUC for “reviving the tradition of the labour movement by raising the awareness among workers that they have the right to vote and be voted for”, the Director General however counselled workers in the public sector to be informed about relevant public service rules guiding participation in partisan politics to avoid conflict of interests in public service delivery.

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